Postgame Takes

Tomlin not sugar coating it

No sugar coating it: The Steelers dropped their second-straight game at Heinz Field, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-10.

And Coach Mike Tomlin was blunt in how he described it.

"Let's not sugar coat it," said Tomlin. "We played poorly today. We didn't deserve to win and that's not taking anything away from the Bengals. I'm talking about our group and the things that we aspire and how we expect to play. We didn't play smart enough today. That was reflected in the penalty game. We didn't execute enough today, making routine plays, routinely. We dropped the ball. We gave up a deep ball in situational play. There is enough to go around, and we take responsibility for that. That's when you do when you play losing football, and that's what we did today.

"We have to absorb that, and the negativity that comes with that, the result that comes with that and resolve to be better. Those are our intentions. That's what we talked about in there.

"We're a 1-2 football team, so we've got to be better. We're not putting ourselves in position to win playing the way we played today."

Tomlin was asked what kind of message he gives to the young players following a disappointing loss to keep their confidence up.

"Like I just told them, absorb the negativity that comes with our positioning and how we perform and keep your mouth shut and resolve to do better," said Tomlin. "And that's not only for them, but that's for all of us, players and coaches."

Flag football: The offense started off slow, with punts on three of the first four possessions and an interception on the other. Tomlin said there wasn't something in particular to point at for the slow start, just everything in general. But he did point out the number of penalties they had, which included five penalties in the first half.

"We're not playing well enough," said Tomlin. "We're not making enough plays. Some of those one-on-one type plays. The initial part of this game you saw the penalties. Every time we possessed the ball you get a holding penalty. It's a drive killer. The penalty aspect of play did not give us a chance to establish any rhythm, particularly at the early portions of the game. I think every possession we had in the first quarter or so was penalty laden."

Streak broken: The defense was without two key starters on Sunday, outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, and finished the game without a sack, after having a streak of 75 straight games with a sack.

It wasn't just the absence of two starters that led to that, but just the way the Bengals controlled things.

"They were in control of the game," said Tomlin. "It was 24-7 for a significant portion of the game. When you're in that position, you're not going to expose yourself to negativity. It's situational. Yes, we had people missing, but how the game was unfolding was an element of play in that as well."

Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field

He said it: Tomlin on Ben Roethlisberger's performance:

"None of us played well enough, him included. None of us coached well enough, me included."

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